OGLESBY — Two Illinois Valley Community College projects have been nominated for prestigious national awards.
Making Industry Meaningful In College (MIMIC), one of 10 Bellwether finalists in 2012, is being considered for a Bellwether Legacy Award recognizing previous winners offered for five or more years and have been replicated elsewhere.
IVCC’s edible car contests have received a third Bellwether nomination recognizing outstanding and innovative projects leading community colleges into the future.
Bellwether and Legacy Award finalists will be announced in December and honored Jan. 25-28 at the Community College Futures Assembly at the University of Florida in Orlando.
Developed by Dorene Perez, computer-aided design/computer-aided engineering instructor and Alice Steljes, a now-retired accounting instructor, MIMIC was first offered in 1995.
“Our students needed workplace skills like teamwork, communication and problem solving,” Perez said. “We began having our students work together as they would in a business or industry, and we provided training for the skills they needed.”
Today, each MIMIC team, or company, includes students in engineering design, electronics and a variety of business fields such as marketing, accounting and information systems. Manufacturing students serve as consultants, and students in other fields, such as graphic design and technical writing, assist.
MIMIC instructors are Jim Gibson, electronics, Rick Serafini, accounting, and Perez.
Since its inception, MIMIC has been recognized for innovation. Perez said it appears to be the first community college project to place technical and business students into teams to design, manufacture and sell products.
IVCC began offering edible car contests in 2006 as a celebration of Engineering Week.
“We knew designing vehicles from food would challenge students to solve problems and be creative, skills that are critical in engineering,” said Perez. “We saw its potential to excite students about an unlimited number of subjects.”
Perez and a team consisting of Gibson, retired communications instructor Rose Marie Lynch and biology instructor Sue Caley Opsal have offered the contests to second-graders through college-age students.
Contests are especially suited for creating interest in and providing hands-on applications for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). While the vehicles created from food are low tech, the program showcases high tech equipment in the speed competition. A programmable logic controller is connected to a human machine interface with reflective photo eyes on the track’s start and finish.
While the organizers did not originate the contest, they have capitalized on its potential for engaging people of all ages in an unlimited number of theoretical concepts.
“People of all ages like playing with food,” Perez said. “We encourage others to capitalize on that interest."